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Codswallop
Posted: 07 April 2007 03:13 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I have a vague memory (to be totally unauthorative) of someone giving an etymology of this word somewhere, not the one about Mr Codd and his soft drink.  Was it from the Dutch?  Forgive me if this was something discussed recently: my memory, which was never good, deteriorates with age.

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Posted: 07 April 2007 05:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Another suggestion by Michael Quinion:

This mainly British colloquial expression is recorded only from the 1960s, but is certainly older. Its origin is uncertain. Some argue it may be from cods, an old term for the testicles that derives from the Anglo-Saxon sense of cod, a bag. It is also suggested that wallop may be connected with the dialect term meaning to chatter or scold (not with the word meaning a heavy blow).

Edit:  Maybe “wallop” is linked with a word suggested by the OED, wobble, as in codswobble.  Essex Review: An Illustrated Quarterly Record of Everything of Permanent Interest in the County. - Page 160 Published 1957, though the definition is obscured.

Essex - Hancock - Galton & Simpson?

[ Edited: 07 April 2007 06:22 AM by ElizaD ]
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Posted: 07 April 2007 10:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Just a casual thought. Here is a non-objectionable slang word which is first attested in 1960. Is it really likely that it is derived from obscure regionalisms, or archaisms such as Quinion’s “cods”?

If it were an unprintable obscenity, one might expect a paucity of early examples.

Isn’t it likely that this is a fanciful euphemism for some more-or-less obscene expression, perhaps one which was never very prevalent? Something along the lines of “cockbollocks”, for example? Maybe influenced in form by “dockwalloper” or “potwalloper” or some such thing?

Again, just a casual thought.

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Posted: 07 April 2007 01:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Or even codswobble?

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Posted: 07 April 2007 02:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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What is “codswobble”? I see it used like “codswallop” a few times on the Web, but I don’t see it in my books.

Does it predate “codswallop”?

[Note that dates given by Google Books are worthless, usually not even close to reality for periodicals particularly.]

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Posted: 07 April 2007 07:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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As best I can tell (thanks for that fine snippet, Google Books!) the _Essex Review_ item does not give a definition, but simply a quotation reading “A [sw---n](?) an’ a codswobblun”, apparently from a 1912 book named _Larkmeadow_, set in Suffolk.

I guess I’d call that an obscure regionalism since I can’t find another instance of it.

Looks like a verb.

Is it “cods” + “wobble”, or is it “cod” + “swobble”? ["Swobble" presumably = “swabble” which is similar to “wallop”.]

Maybe it means “thrash like a codfish”? Or maybe something else?

Is there any semantic connection to “codswallop” = “hogwash”?

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Posted: 21 February 2009 11:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I found this in a Google Books search:

Little Snowwhite‎ - Page 51
by Frances Isabelle M. Kershaw - 1884

... and “codwollop”.’ Both the, Examiner and Mrs. Bother-the-boys seemed
thoroughly well satisfied with the answers. Next came the arithmetical
examination. ...

The word “codwollop” shows up only as a vague suggestion of where it actually is (an unfortunate quirk of Google Books).  The readable part of the snippet is on the second line.  Nevertheless, the use of inverted commas suggests that “codwollop” was either slang or a regionalism in 1884. Since the quote deals with the integrity of answers, it’s possible that the word on the preceding line did refer to an answer that was less than rational, ie codwollop.  Doubtless someone will very quickly tell me I’m talking a load of it.

[ Edited: 21 February 2009 11:56 PM by ElizaD ]
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Posted: 22 February 2009 05:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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ElizaD - 21 February 2009 11:25 PM

I found this in a Google Books search:

Little Snowwhite‎ - Page 51
by Frances Isabelle M. Kershaw - 1884

… and “codwollop”.’ Both the, Examiner and Mrs. Bother-the-boys seemed
thoroughly well satisfied with the answers. Next came the arithmetical
examination. ...

The word “codwollop” shows up only as a vague suggestion of where it actually is (an unfortunate quirk of Google Books).  The readable part of the snippet is on the second line.  Nevertheless, the use of inverted commas suggests that “codwollop” was either slang or a regionalism in 1884. Since the quote deals with the integrity of answers, it’s possible that the word on the preceding line did refer to an answer that was less than rational, ie codwollop.  Doubtless someone will very quickly tell me I’m talking a load of it.

I doubt the word in that text is actually “codwallop,” even if the hit is there in the original Google book search.  If you then search inside the book for “codwallop” or any variant of such, you get nothing.  This almost always means that it’s a different word.  False hit, in other words.

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Posted: 22 February 2009 01:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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When I enter “codwollop” in the “search in this book” box, I get the exact passage I quoted above, on page 51.

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Posted: 22 February 2009 01:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Having entered the proper search term (I first misspelled it), I get one of those frustrating snippet views that don’t show you what you need.

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Posted: 22 February 2009 03:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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That’s a remarkable find, Eliza.  You should bring it to the attention of your friends at the OED.

The text excerpt Eliza quotes, as already noted, shows codwollop in quotes and preceded by and.  Unfortunately, the page-image snippet is one of those frustrating ones that, as LH notes, doesn’t really show the desired word, but only a thin bottom-shaving of the line of text it occurs in.  However, by careful examination of the bottoms of the letters I was able to determine that the word preceding “and” was “quotulate”, and further probing with the search feature showed it to be the post-hyphen fragment of “absquotulate” [sic], divided between s and q at the end of a line of text.  The full sentence is

Then a boy was requested to ‘enumerate words rhyming with “skidaddle,” “absquotulate,” and “codwollop”.’

Unfortunately, this conveys nothing about the intended sense of “codwollop”; it appears to be simply one of three odd words chosen for this question in a rather odd-sounding exam.  On the other hand, “skedaddle” and “absquatulate” (the usual spellings) are roughly synonymous, meaning to depart, clear out, vamoose.  Finding “codwollop” grouped with them suggests, albeit weakly, that it might have had a similar meaning to the writer.

[ Edited: 22 February 2009 03:07 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 22 February 2009 06:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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At Google Books:

http://tinyurl.com/c7bbro

1879: //"Hold on,” shouted Parker. “I ‘s got a cod-walloper."//

[a man fishing: apparently the word means “big fish” or “whopper” or so (the word “wopper” is used in the same episode, apparently with the same sense)]

Century Dictionary (on-line):

1889: [under “walloper"] //"Cod-walloper, a cod-fishing vessel."//

[ Edited: 22 February 2009 06:59 PM by D Wilson ]
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Posted: 23 February 2009 01:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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And thank you, Dr Techie, for your painstaking reconstruction of the citation.  Just to restate: I never claimed that “codwollop” appeared in a readable quote.  My words were: The word “codwollop” shows up only as a vague suggestion of where it actually is (an unfortunate quirk of Google Books).  The readable part of the snippet is on the second line. I’ve emailed the OED with that citation and taken the liberty of including the 1979 citation as well.  (My credit to D Wilson for that find). It’s now for the OED to sort out.

We know google books can be misleading, but it does have its uses, so let’s not automatically put down every antedate from that source.

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Posted: 23 February 2009 08:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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One of the complaints about Googlebooks is that the dates are unreliable, and although in this case it appears to be impossible to verify the publication date (of Little Snowwhite) internally, I found reference to it in A Supplement to Allibone’s Critical Dictionary of English Literature and British and American Authors, Vol. II by John Foster Kirk, published in 1892 (at Googlebooks, but with full view available and thus the date is verified), which lists the publication date of the Kershaw book as 1885 (while Googlebooks puts it at 1884).  I don’t consider the one-year discrepancy significant; I myself have a chapter in a book that came out in 2005 but its copyright page shows 2006 as the publication date.

So I think we can consider the date of Eliza’s find to be accurate plus or minus a year. D Wilson’s finds are also quite interesting but seem quite different from the modern sense, although one might suggest “big fish” -> “fish story” -> “lies & nonsense”.

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Posted: 23 February 2009 05:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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From G. Books:

“1891”: //"Crawling Codwollopers."//

1897: //Reuben’s humor was manifested in the use of strange words, which he probably manufactured, as I never heard them from any other person. A bad knot in a fish line was a “wrinkle-hawk,” an excellent thing was “just exebogenus,” a big fish was “an old codwalloper,” and a long-stemmed pipe was “a flugemocker."//

“1917”: //Gosh all hemlock and crawlin’ cod-wollopers, didn’t it blow and warn’t the boys scared?//

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Posted: 24 February 2009 08:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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From G. Books:

1997, a memoir of the WW II Royal Navy: in a glossary: //God-walloper: naval padre//

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